Opinion (380)

Monday, 27 May 2019 15:33

COLUMN: All gave some, some gave all

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A bullet pinged past the soldier’s ear as he crouched behind bushes near the front lines. A soldier near him suddenly lurched forward, letting out a horrible scream as he crumpled to the ground and died. All gave some, some gave all.

A few months ago, my wife convinced me to do one of those at home ancestry DNA things. I had heard horror stories about them, mostly from friends who had whole wardrobes of tin foil about how the DNA was being stored to hold against you at a later date.

 I believed this was hogwash, but that little tiny seed was planted in my head, so the boxed kit sat on top of our refrigerator for a while. Every couple of weeks, my wife would nag me and remind me that I needed to do the test. My lineage is a little goofy, so it would be fun and kinda neat to find out what my makeup is. 

“You need to spit in your tube,” she would say, night after night. The odd thing was, you couldn't eat 30 minutes before spitting in the little plastic tube. A few of you know me, and you know for a fact that I am eating all the time. Catching me with an entire half hour where I have not consumed a beverage other than water or solid food is nearly impossible. After a few months of this, I finally had a spontaneous moment where I had not consumed anything whatsoever. I took my wife's advice and called for her to bring the stupid kit into the living room.

The kit requires a ridiculously large specimen of saliva. I imagine this is in the event they drop some, or spill some on a laboratory table, they have enough to use. I wasn't too keen on this, especially if my DNA was going to be in the hands of someone who has a bad case of the dropsies. I don't know how many ounces they needed, but it seemed okay until I started filling the tube. 

They wanted a lot. 

The human body cannot produce the amount of saliva they require for this kit. I imagine a lot of people see this and toss the hundred-dollar kit into the wastebasket. The company makes their money and you never find out if you are related to the 11th king of Whowhatwheristan. 

Generating this much saliva is not easy. I thought of things I knew would stir up a lot of saliva. I thought of steaks and strawberry shortcake (the dessert, not the cartoon character), of Key lime pie and rare cheeseburgers. I thought of Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. I thought of a big slice from that pizza place I liked in Brooklyn. 

This was harder than I thought and I only filled about half the tube. I thought about more foods and drinks. I thought about s'mores and cupcakes. I thought about Raquel Welch, circa 1968. 

I finally filled the tube. After about a half hour, when I could have been noshing on something, I finally filled the tube with saliva. We put in the solution that helps stabilize it during shipping, put it in the neat little biohazard bag and put it in its little shipping box with a pre-printed label on it. Just like that, a box of my bodily fluids was being sent across the country by the same people who read my magazines before putting them in my mailbox, toss packages haphazardly on my porch, and who seem to bend every greeting card or photo I receive. What could possibly go wrong? 

Well, to make a long story short, I am not related to anyone famous. I am not from some little forgotten part of the world. Like I figured, I am mostly Irish from my mother's side and Polish and a little bit of each Eastern European nation on my birth father's side. I am not descended from greatness. I do have a couple of very distant cousins that live within an hour of me. It might be nice to connect with them and see just how far back we are related. My twin brother asked me about my results. I told him and gave him my log-in to the website. 

“Did you find anything interesting?” I asked him on the phone the other night. 

“Yeah,” he told me, “something very interesting.”

“What did you discover?”

“I discovered that if my twin brother does this dumb thing, I don't have to shell out the hundred bucks to do it.”


Joe Weaver, a native of Baltimore, is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he (usually) writes on the lighter side of family life.


To the editor:

I just experienced one of the most emotional and heartwarming conversations ever. 

Ms. Antoinette Catalano is a disabled female that was traveling home to Tampa Florida, via Amtrak. Ms. Catalano and other passengers became engaged in some verbal disagreement and she was asked to leave the train for reasons unbeknownst to Hamlet Police officers. 

Monday, 20 May 2019 12:09

COLUMN: More freedom means more business

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We all want North Carolina to be an attractive place to live, work, create jobs, rear families, and build communities. When we move from ends to means, the level of disagreement moves from low to high.

When people think of things that are decidedly American, I'm pretty certain flea markets are somewhere on the lists. In almost every part of this nation, on any given weekend, you can find a flea market. Some are big and some are small. Some are not far from major metropolitan areas and some are in the middle of nowhere. 

A large majority of retirees work between 25 to 30 years in public service before receiving their retirement, contributing 6 percent of their pay each month. For many public sector workers that monthly, required contribution impacts their daily lives — this mandatory contribution to their pension often takes money away from a family’s daily buying power.

When no crime’s been committed, there’s nothing to probe and no one to punish. So why are two North Carolina colleges wasting their time investigating protected speech?

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, adding his voice to calls to "break up" the social media giant, calls it a "powerful monopoly, eclipsing all of its rivals and erasing competition." In recent years, we've seen similar claims, and heard demands for similar remedies, aimed at Google, Amazon, and other large companies.

Monday, 13 May 2019 13:20

COLUMN: N.C. ranks high in college funding

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North Carolina appropriates less taxpayer money to state colleges and universities in real terms than it did before the onset of the Great Recession. Tuition has risen markedly and now accounts for a larger share of total revenue. But our state remains one of the most generous in the country when it comes to funding higher education.

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